Nessie, the Orlando Fire Department’s arson-detecting dog, retrieved kudos this month when she helped investigators crack an arson case in Orange County, Florida, the United States.
It was a first for the three-year-old canine, who has been with the agency since last April. Nessie, who is trained to detect fire-starting substances, was called on Feb 7 to search a house on Cattail Court that suffered “extensive damage” in a fire the night before.
Her powerful nose alerted detectives to areas around the home where fire accelerants were present, Cpt Jason Herrman of the Bureau of Fire, Arson and Explosives said in an email to the Fire Department on Feb 8, commending the department for Nessie’s work.
“Nessie was instrumental in assisting detectives in locating multiple areas of origin within the severely damaged home,” he said.
Her detective work helped determine the fire wasn’t accidental.
The homeowner, whom family members believed was inside the home during the fire, was found later by detectives at a nearby hospital, where he admitted to pouring flammable liquid inside the house and lighting it with a match, according to Herrman.
“(T)his confession matched where Nessie led detectives to believe an area of origin was present,” Herrman said.
Nessie has sniffed out other fire scenes, but “this is the first one where her contribution has led to a result of charges against someone,” Fire Department spokeswoman Ashley Papagni said.
Charges are pending against the homeowner until his release from the hospital, Herrman said.
Nessie’s handler, Lt Jason Revoldt, was praised on his partner’s behalf by Fire Chief Roderick Williams during a weekly call with employees, according to Papagni.
“We know she’s a hard-working pooch, but it’s nice to see her helping the community,” Papagni said. – Tribune News Service/The Orlando Sentinel/Tess Sheets